I watch you every day. You may not think that I do, but it has become my place of comfort; to watch you. I know at times you feel that more of my love and attention is given to your brother. Do you remember the time you told me that you believe the reason I show him more affection is because he’s “easier to love”? You looked so hurt when you said that. I was crushed when I watched you retreat into yourself; something you have become an expert at.
But maybe there is some truth to that statement.
I want you to know that you are the one I secretly agonize over; the one I so desperately search for ways to connect with. The one I feel such a sense of pain deep inside when I feel like I have betrayed you.
My relationship with your brother is simple and easy; my relationship with you is complex and deep.
We almost look into each other’s souls when we try to communicate. You know what I am talking about. Those minutes that feel like they can stretch into hours when we are locked in battle; we steal glances at each other that describe all of the emotions we are feeling without any words.
You challenge and empower me to be a better person. I don’t think you know that; probably because I rarely tell you. But it’s true. Maybe it’s because you are the first born, or maybe it’s because you are my girl; regardless, I look to you for so much. I know the pressure I put on you may seem suffocating at times. I am working on that.
The thing that I always find so amazing about you is that no matter how badly I behave, you always forgive me. You always look at me with kindness and understanding. And in those moments of forgiveness, you love me deeper than you did the day before.
My beautiful daughter … I can say that, can’t I? Call you beautiful? The world has told mothers that we cannot tell our daughters they are beautiful. We are urged to find other words to describe our girls. And you know what, I kind of find that ironic. If we are to raise our daughters to be empowered, smart, and strong, then why should we feel that we cannot express ourselves without society telling us we are wrong?
The truth is, when I look at you that is what I see; beauty.
So welcome to the world, my brave, beautiful girl; you will have to fight for what you believe to be the truth — not what someone else tells you to believe.
It’s not just in the way your eyes show kindness and empathy, or the way your smile seems to always put people at ease that I see beauty. Nor is it in the way your body moves when I watch you dance in ballet class, full of confidence and grace. You so obviously love who you are. While all those things make you beautiful, it is really your heart that shines.
Remember when you were really little and I used to tell you that the most important thing about you is your heart? Well, I think you believed me, because your heart is so apparent in every little thing you do. Every step you take, every intentional action you are a part of and every hug that you so easily give.
Your patience, compassion, empathy and kindness have taught me how to be a mom.
You are teaching me how to be a better human being.
What you may not know is that mothers and daughters seem to be constantly doing this dance with each other. This back and forth of trying to figure out how we fit into each other’s lives. The complexity of women and girls is what sometimes creates the distance between us, but it can also help foster the love that we so deeply feel for each other.
I have heard people refer to the relationship between a mother and daughter as the most powerful bond in the world. For better or for worse, it sets the stage for all other relationships. I know there are times when I wonder how this is going to work; how am I going to mother you, a daughter, a deep connection that sometimes scares me; how am I going to help set the stage for the rest of your relationships?
I’m not sure I know the answer to that, but here’s the thing: we are in this together, you and I. We will figure it out.
And this dance that mothers and daughters seem to fall into so easily will evolve over time, because that’s what mothers and daughters do; we take turns leading as we find our way together.More On